“God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.”
— Genesis 1:31
When I tell people my column is called “A Better View,” often I follow with an explanation that it is a positive and faithful take on events in our lives and the world around us. But what I don’t say because I think it goes without saying is that perspective is implicitly Catholic.
What separates Catholicism from many other religious and philosophical views is the belief that life is good and valuable, no matter what. No matter what challenges or tough times may befall us, and no matter how dark the storms that come.
It’s a religion and belief system that values human life and all life as special and distinct, and therefore worthy of consideration. Ultimately Catholicism, and the average Catholic, believes mankind and God together will triumph over evil, over pain and suffering, and over the forces of darkness that will always exist.
Now that’s not just my perspective on it. A study by Notre Dame back in 2014 found 42.8 percent of American Catholics view human nature as “basically good” compared to 30.8 percent of non-Catholics in America.
Being Catholic and having grown up with that Catholic better view of the world, I sometimes forget not everyone out there had the benefit of that. It’s important to remember that when talking to people from every walk of life and every background, and to those other Catholics who for one reason or another don’t share that Catholic view.
I believe since its view is so positive and inclusive of all life, Catholicism endows us with both a great gift and a great responsibility, especially nowadays when it’s easy to feel trapped in the ether of anger, distrust, pessimism and despair brewing in many hearts and minds. According to that same report above younger Americans nowadays are particularly more “ambivalent” about the value and goodness of life than they used to be.
But first let’s reflect on the gift. Not everyone has been blessed to grow up with this marvelous and miraculous view that the world is a beautiful place given to us by our Creator, and that every single event in it, all the triumphs and all the challenges, the heartaches and the happiness, the laughs and the tears are gifts. Because they are all opportunities to reach out and revel in the presence of other human beings in our lives. And that God has also blessed each one of them, too, with all those gifts and sent them each our way to make a difference in our lives.
Together we make the beautiful tapestry that spells out God’s name written upon all of our souls. And we do so in a breathtakingly beautiful palate of possibilities that is our planet and our universe.
And now here is the responsibility part. If we believe that opening quote from Genesis; if we believe that Christ’s love saves us; if we believe as the Apostle’s Creed states “in the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting”; if we believe in a Holy Spirit that is alive in the world and inspires us to lift up our hearts and receive the Truth of Christ; if we believe that we are all connected in power and spirit in one Body of Christ — if we believe all of this, then we must show it.
For how will we testify to the greatness of our God, to the unconditional love of Christ and to the forgiveness and grace we believe we have been endowed with if we are not joyous? If we truly believe then we must truly show it in our day-to-day lives not only by giving thanks but by proclaiming the Good News by being in a good mood!
Now that doesn’t mean you need to walk around with an ear to ear grin on your face all the time. But it does mean that if you truly believe everything that I have referenced in this column, and everything that our Church teaches us is true, then you must not only be incredibly grateful but you would logically be pretty darned happy.
Now if you are already saying “Amen” to this, kudos to you. If not, think about it for a few minutes. I think it will eventually put a smile on your face and a little more spring in your step.
Fear to be sure is a motivator, but only in the short run. It makes us react quickly to emergencies and imminent danger. But in the long run it loses its strength and reduces us to our base reactionary self. Love lingers longer and builds us up to our greatest potential self. It can move mountains and change the world.